To be completely honest, there hasn’t been much to draw me toward El Torito lately. I had lumped it into another generic category of chain restaurants that I might visit if I was really hungry or craving Mexican food in a pinch but I’m happy to say that’s all about to change. I know, right? You must think I’m mad but listen up, folks. The Flavors of Baja menu is no joke.
On a particularly joyous night (new job, yo!), I invited my foodie partner in crime, Wendy Chen of WendyfulWorld, to come out and try El Torito’s new offerings. We were both skeptical so we had our palates set on high alert. Our night began fairly simple with a side of chips, some drinks, and their signature table side guacamole. There’s nothing wrong with that table side guacamole and I wish more Mexican restaurants did that vs mixing up some concoction in the kitchen and serving it up. I like watching some of my food being prepared in front of me.
Aside from an old favorite, what really had us ooh and ahhing, was Chef Loreto Alcala’s creation inspired by a trip to Baja. The concept of this menu is to draw customers back to El Torito and revisit it from a new perspective so if you’re bored of the new menu, you’ll be surprised by this new one and lucky for you, it’s available until the end of November but don’t be discouraged; El Torito has more to offer in the coming months.
Some stand outs from the menu (and sure to be crowd pleasers), was the Baja Trio Appetizer (a trio of mini-seafood ceviche tacos infused with the unexpected flavors of fresh fruits, spicy chiles and unique spices. Features crab with red jalapeño, fennel and ginger aioli; spicy shrimp with jicama, green apple, serrano chiles and guacamole; and halibut with tomatoes, onions, cilantro and avocado). It was the first dish that the chef brought out to us and set the stage for the rest of our tasting. The taco shell is light and airy while the flavors blend together deliciously.
Another favorite, and something that really surprised me, were the Carintas En Tablitas (a tender pork dish slowly simmered in garlic, oranges and spices, and then served with a fiery grilled toreado (lightly grilled chile), grilled Mexican cebollita, avocado, frijoles de la olla and warm tortillas). I’ve never been a fan of pork or carnitas so I was a bit reluctant to try this dish but what makes this dish unique is that the meat is marinated overnight and then served with orange juice which gives it a surprisingly crisp, refreshing flavor and a nice tang on the palate.
For more photos and a recap of our dining adventure, check out the video and slideshow below. And one more thing! If you’re enticed by the Flavors of Baja menu, enter for a chance to win a dinner for two to any El Torito location. Check out the giveaway below and then let me know what you think. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!